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Astronomers capture first image of a black hole

Submitter: Ilse van Bemmel
Description: It’s been a bit more than a week since this made the global headlines and was on front pages of newspapers around the globe: the very first direct image of the shadow of the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, produced by the Event Horizon Telescope Consortium. The image shows one of the most massive monsters in our nearby Universe, the 6.5 billion solar mass black hole at the core of the galaxy M87 (for radio astronomers also known as Virgo A).

Making this image required a team of over 200 scientists, engineers and technicians from around the world to work together. Eight telescopes needed to be operated simultaneously. The recorded data had to be correlated and calibrated, and then imaged. To ensure the best scientific quality, a team of experts vetted the data at each step of the process. Three independent calibration pipelines and four independent imaging pipelines were developed to guarantee the highest possible imaging fidelity.

JIVE was deeply involved in the calibration of the data, which is extremely challenging at these high radio frequencies. We provided a co-lead of the calibration team and writing team for paper III, and played an important role in coordinating the publication of the 6 papers. In collaboration with NRAO and Radboud University we upgraded the CASA package to be able to calibrate the EHT observations, which eventually resulted one of the three pipelines used to calibrate the data. The JIVE EHT team members are Ilse van Bemmel, Huib Jan van Langevelde, Des Small, Mark Kettenis and Jay Blanchard (now at NRAO).
Copyright: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
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